Learn Together Cymru


Our previous project, National Programme for Reading Volunteers, demonstrated that one-to-one reading with an older adult who visited the school at least once each week correlates with accelerated gains in pupils’ reading age, ability and enthusiasm. Older volunteers with the same programme increased their social circles and integration in their communities, improved their sense of well-being and felt useful.

This project aims to support children and young people in their development of basic skills, through one to one and small group interaction with older volunteers.


The project aims to:

  • recruit 450 new volunteers and train, place and support these together with 500 already engaged and
  • support 21,000 children and young people in their development of basic skills, through one-to-one and small group interaction with older volunteers.

Outcomes for senior participants:

  • Improve their well-being (measured via increases in subjective sense of safety & making a contribution),
  • increase community involvement,
  • reduce loneliness.

Outcomes for younger people:

  • improve reading ability and enthusiasm for reading and learning and
  • increase in social confidence.

Finally, the project aims to increase intergenerational activity and the use of community facilities e.g. libraries.


Children and young people aged 4-18; adults aged 18+ from all over Wales. The majority of participating pupils are identified by their school head or class teacher, either as individuals or groups, or sometimes as whole classes whom the school feels would benefit. The majority who, struggle to attain expected levels of reading, however, some are pupils for whom English or Welsh is a second language, some are those who could excel with support and some are those ‘in the middle’ pupils who would also benefit from more support.

Volunteers are recruited via the volunteer bureaux, Wales Council for Voluntary Action and Volunteering Matters websites, national, regional and local events, press and social media; schools engaged via teaching networks and media, school contacts and clusters, events, direct mail and calls, or contacted the project following recommendations.

Activities/ events

Most volunteers listen to individual primary school pupils reading for 10 minutes each, totalling around 2 hours each week. Others support maths or basic skills through activities such as knitting, cookery, local history, model making, in primary and secondary schools and in libraries.

Benefits for the Community

  • better cohesion and participation
  • becoming an active citizen
  • increased positive intergenerational contact

In Learn Together Cymru we hope to, additionally, promote the use of community buildings and are measuring footfall.

Benefits for the Younger People

  • accelerated gains in pupils’ reading age, ability and enthusiasm
  • improved literacy skills
  • increased self esteem and confidence

Benefits for the Older People

  • increase social circles
  • integration in local communities
  • improved sense of well-being
  • a feeling of being useful


Big Lottery


Evaluation is being carried our throughout the life of this project addressing the following areas:


  • Reading enjoyment questionnaire,
  • Reading age data,
  • Teachers’ qualitative comments/assessments,
  • Volunteers’ qualitative comments/assessments,
  • School focus group evaluations,
  • Case studies.


  • Well-being survey,
  • Volunteers’ qualitative comments/assessments,
  • Volunteer focus group evaluations,
  • Case studies.

What would be done differently in the future?

This project follows and develops previous projects: it is the response to our previous ‘what would be done differently in future’. In 2018 we will of course have more learning to share, but one of our recent findings is that some schools access and work with the project in order to engage parents/carers as volunteers and, in doing so, improve relationships with parents/carers and increase enthusiasm for learning within pupils’ family networks.


We have printed and pdf leaflets, posters, fact sheets and book marks and are happy to share.

Local Priorities

Through our volunteers and through our volunteering opportunities, we work to improve the lives of young people, disabled people, families and older people: Volunteering Matters’ work empowers disabled people to lead independent lives, offers security and stability to families and children, helps young people find their direction in life and enables older people to maintain their health and well-being.

Scottish NPF Objectives

Volunteering Matters now have a project in Scotland.

This project contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF).

SMARTER – Expanding opportunities to succeed from nurture through to lifelong learning ensuring higher and more widely shared achievements.

HEALTHIER – helping people to sustain and improve their health, especially in disadvantaged communities, ensuring better, local and faster access to health care.

Scottish NPF Outcomes

Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens: To enable children, young people and (subsequently) adults to thrive from an early age, and make a positive contribution in the 21st century.

We live longer, healthier lives: Securing longer healthier lives for the people of Scotland will always be a top priority for governments and individuals alike. There are significant challenges which can only be addressed by everyone in Scotland working together, pursuing this goal through improving lifestyles and life circumstances, and a shared ownership of an effective NHS.